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Gulf Finance House Prices U.K. Debut at $2.5 Per Share

Bahrain's Gulf Finance House said on Friday it had priced a $276.5 million initial public offering in London at $2.50 per share and $25 per global depositary receipt (GDR).

The issue was priced at the bottom of a range set earlier this month of $2.5 to $3 per share and $25 to $30 per GDR.

The Islamic finance firm said 100 million shares had been allocated to the international offering with another 10.6 million shares potentially available through an overallotment option.

The total 110.6 million shares represent 15.3% of the company's outstanding equity capital, it said.

The firm, which is already listed in Bahrain and Kuwait, said it would use its new listing on the London Stock Exchange to help it expand.

"GFH is committed to growing its capabilities in the origination and financing of development infrastructure projects ... as well as expanding its asset management and private equity expertise," said Deputy Chief Executive Officer Peter Panayiotou.

"The GDR listing will support this strategy by providing GFH with greater access to international capital markets."

GFH, which focuses on infrastructure and real estate projects in the Gulf Arab region as well as Jordan, Morocco and India, is benefiting from a booming economy in the region.

GFH profit jumped 51% to $211.6 million in 2006. The company, which entered an alliance with Abu Dhabi Investment House to launch crude oil funds in May, posted a net profit margin of 62% last year.

The company, which complies with Islamic rules that ban interest, is building an energy city in the Gulf state of Qatar and raised $395 million through a private placement to fund a similar project in India to tap the country's soaring energy demand. It is also eyeing business opportunities in China.

The GDRs will begin conditionally trading on Friday but will trade unconditionally from July 4, the firm said.